As I looked out the window today, I noticed the leaves on my neighborâ€™s tree are beginning to turn. While the temperatures here in the Midwestern U.S. are still at summertime levels, there are other signs that fall is upon us. Before we go into hibernation mode, I like to take on some organizing and extra cleaning chores–another spring cleaning if you will. Cabinets are emptied and wiped down, with new shelf paper installed, carpets cleaned, closets tidied, etc. Even the garage gets the once over as we rearrange things so we can store patio furniture. As I look around me at what needs to be done and at my schedule, it seems impossible that Iâ€™ll get everything done–at least in this century! Time to panic? Not yet. Iâ€™m taking small steps, scheduling one extra chore each day, so that by the time November rolls around Iâ€™ll be in good shape. (Hey, a girl can dream, canâ€™t she?)
Iâ€™m also scheduling a little extra time to tidy up my online tree at Ancestry. Since I had found many records at Ancestry before it was possible to attach records from the site to your Personal Tree, not all of them are linked to my tree. Iâ€™m also scanning copies of other records that I donâ€™t currently have in electronic format and adding them as well.
There are several reasons I need to get this done. First, I want the online tree to be as complete as possible. Itâ€™s nice to be able to reference it online and see images of the records you need to access without dragging notebooks and files all over. Also, with the Ancestry trees, once I attach an image, anyone I allow to access my tree can view that image. This allows me to collaborate freely with those I choose to invite to my tree–whether they have an Ancestry subscription or not. And with photos and images of records available on the site, even those cousins who previously werenâ€™t interested in family history may come around.
Another good reason to tidy up my online tree is the newly launched AncestryPress. Once you have records and photographs in your tree, you can load it into AncestryPress where it will automatically create pages for a book, using the information you have provided. Then you can go in and customize the pages, creating your own heirloom book. You can print the book yourself, or pay Ancestry to have the book bound for you. Iâ€™ve seen samples that my coworkers have created and I have to say that the motivation to create a similar project is keeping me on track with my online housekeeping!
Like my fall cleaning chores, Iâ€™m taking it a little at a time, and Iâ€™m finding that itâ€™s a great way to review and make sure I havenâ€™t missed any clues. I exported only one branch of my family from my GEDCOM to start my project, and I am focusing on my grandmotherâ€™s line for now. Beginning with her, I am working my way back and inventorying each person, one at a time.
If you donâ€™t already have a personal tree at Ancestry, itâ€™s easy to get started. You can begin from scratch by entering information on the person you want to be the start person in your project and then working your way back as far as you can. Or, if you already have your family history project in a genealogical software program like â€œFamily Tree Maker,â€ you can export the GEDCOM file and make that your tree. Most software packages will also allow you the choice of exporting the entire file, or just select individuals–like I did.
You will load the file from the My Ancestry tab at Ancestry. Under My Family Trees, just click on Create a New Family Tree or Upload Your Family Tree and youâ€™re on your way.
The Green Leaf
Once youâ€™ve added your file or an individual, Ancestry starts searching for records that match what youâ€™ve entered. If it finds a close match, a green leaf will appear giving you â€œhintsâ€ that will show you possible matches it has found it its databases. Ancestry members can look at the hints and if a match is found, import that record directly into the tree–sources and all. It also allows you to select what information will be imported into your tree. So, for example, if the age on a census record is off by a year or so, it wonâ€™t override what you know to be the correct age/birth year.
When you first get started this is a great shortcut to getting all those records attached. In cases where a name is misspelled or mistranscribed, you may have to re-search for it, but if you already have a copy in your files, it shouldnâ€™t be too tough to locate it again. (Tip: When I print out a record at Ancestry, I print the image on one side, then I flip the paper over and put it back in the printer to print the index entry on the reverse side. This way I can see exactly how it is indexed.)
Adding Your Own Records
While the import of records found elsewhere isnâ€™t as seamless as those found on Ancestry, I can import scans of them as photos and attach them to the individual(s) to which they pertain. I can also transcribe them into the source citation for quick reference. This makes them available to me through the online tree, and when Iâ€™m ready to create my AncestryPress project, the record images will be imported along with my file so I can just insert them in an appropriate spot.
Next time, weâ€™ll be exploring AncestryPress to see how to begin a project and what you can do with it. The image accompanying this blog post is a page I created in AncestryPress for my grandmother. Click on the image to enlarge it.
Juliana Smith has been an editor of Ancestry newsletters for more than nine years and is author of “The Ancestry Family Historian’s Address Book.” She has written for “Ancestry” Magazine and wrote the Computers and Technology chapter in “The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy,” rev. 3rd edition. Juliana can be reached by e- mail at [email protected], but she regrets that her schedule does not allow her to assist with personal research.